MIA chocolate brand named as among top three sustainable suppliers

Sustainability-focused chocolate company MIA (Made in Africa), has gained a coveted spot among the top three confectionery brands in an industry review by not-for-profit organisation Ethical Consumer, writes Neill Barston.

The company, which sources its cocoa and produces its ranges in Madagascar, gained a score of 17/20 for its performance credentials, for the awards that examined the environmental impact of 47 key businesses, as well as factors including their respective approach to human rights, and political activity of individual firms.

According to Ethical Consumer’s ratings, first place was awarded to Ecuador-based organic chocolate brand Pacari, followed by US business Beyond Good, making its chocolate in Africa.

The results saw British business Plamil gain fifth place with a rating of 17, for its plant-based ranges developed by the business as an original pioneer of the vegan movement.  Also within the top 10 were Moo Free, Booja Booja, and Chocolat Madagascar.

While independent brand were rated highly, major brands faired less well according to the non-profit group, with Lindt, Ferrero, Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars all scoring below 10, according to the consumer organisation’s results, despite having well established sustainability programmes.

MIA co-founder Brett Beach, who recently featured in an exclusive video interview with Confectionery Production, welcomed the company’s latest success with the Ethical Consumer ratings.

He said: “From the start, the MIA brand promise has been to create amazing food that does good and this recognition is proof that the work we’ve done with supply partners in Africa is making a difference. We’re also pleased that Ethical Consumer has taken added-value in cocoa producing countries into account in their review that covers other important issues such as climate change, animal welfare, human rights and pollution. In our experience, this is one of the most comprehensive reviews of company ethics so it’s a great tool to measure progress towards our goals.”

MIA focuses on the ethical production of finished products in Africa, which includes measuring impact on cocoa farms. Benchmarked against the Fairtrade cocoa farm gate price of US $1,820 per ton, MIA pays farmers in Madagascar over 30% more at an average of US $2,400 per ton, with the business working closely with farmers in Madagascar to produce chocolate at source.

Beach added: “The price of cocoa price is crucial for farmer livelihoods but our commitment to Africa goes beyond the farm gate to include communities that benefit from the production of chocolate in Africa. Making chocolate in Madagascar creates five times more value than the cocoa farm gate price, representing a transformational change from the status quo that sees virtually all of 99% Africa’s cocoa exported as a raw product or semi-finished ingredient for processing abroad.”

MIA audits its supply chain and measures social impact with Irish NGO Proudly Made in Africa (PMIA), an organisation that works with manufacturers across the African continent to create value-added finished products that can compete in the global market and create more benefit to communities.

PMIA Director Vikki Brennan commented on the MIA ethical ranking: “Proudly Made in Africa is delighted to see the results of Ethical Consumer’s chocolate review, ranking our PMIA Awardee MIA as one of their recommended buys and third place overall on a list of impressive brands. It is rewarding to see the hard work MIA has put into their supply chain being recognised by industry peers.

“The efforts they are expending to ensure full transparency, equitable partnerships and a deep understanding of and adaptation to the social, economic and environmental issues around their production shows that doing good business commercially is possible. Their commitment to adding value at source is ensuring improved livelihoods for the communities that produce cocoa and chocolate in Madagascar. MIA’s way of working is a case study in how to deliver more than just a bottom line margin.”

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